Tuesday, March 06, 2007

So, There's This Dentist...

I currently take anti-anxiety medication, something else for panic attacks and another load of dope for another health issue that I don't care to reveal at the moment. (You don't need to know and it's neither exciting nor front-bottom related.)

Here's my question: should it be okay for my dentist to say to me "I take it you aren't on the Seroxat (Paxil) any more!" and then giggle as if she just told a really good joke? I felt really embarrassed and at that moment I didn't know why. Quick as a flash I answered "actually I am." She responded a bit sheepishly with "20mg?" I answered "30mg. I am, in fact, quite insane." She wrote it all in my notes and got on with the check up.

So, anyway, I know the answer to my own question. It wasn't okay for her to make an assumption, joke about it and make me feel ashamed of the medication that I need. But why did I have to try and be funny about it? First off, I wasn't sure why she made the comment. Has she seen the bad press that surrounds paroxetine and assumed that no-one takes it any more? Has she looked at my notes and calculated the length of time I have been on the tablets and assumed I ought to be "cured" by now? What prompted the question and the giggle?

Secondly, was there any way I could have responded to that comment without irreparably damaging the otherwise excellent relationship that I have with her? I love my dentist. She has coaxed me into more and better dental healthcare and she is still NHS. She has always been caring and sensitive and this was totally out of character for her. My gut feeling is that she will have noted the exchange and felt quite silly about it. I hope so. This is one of those conversations that I really don't want to have.

I suppose what I'm really asking is, "Why am I ashamed of my mental health status?". I'm a bit shocked that it was such a sore point. I thought I was beyond that kind of thinking. Turns out maybe I'm not.


Anonymous said...

She's probably taking it too!!

Anji said...

I have to say it's nice to actually meet someone else who takes paroxetine. The stuff is pure evil if I forget to take it, but I expect to be on it for life so I don't worry too much about the withdrawal. And you know, it might just have saved my life. There's nothing to be ashamed of about that. I still find myself blushing a little when it is mentioned though, or trying to change the subject. I think it's just because we *know* what people assume about people on antidepressants, especially paroxetine, and we'd rather as few people knew/mentioned it as possible?

spotted elephant said...

It's really hard to be ok with your mental health status when everyone around reacts in a way to show that it's not ok. I'm glad you have a good relationship with her-this may indeed just be a blip. Maybe it was her own nervousness coming out. Regardless, you're right-it was inappropriate.

One of the ways I tried to cope with having mental illnesses was to be so upfront about it that people didn't have a chance to be inappropriate. I still want to get a "I 'heart' my lithium" t-shirt. But I still get embarrassed, and it makes me angry that I feel that way. I think it's just a side effect of living in a culture where people are still scared by mental illness. :(

belledame222 said...

what SE said. I don't know how I would've reacted under the circumstances either.

once i needed to get some paperwork from some doctor i'd never seen before--something totally unrelated to mental health p.s. (dermatology). so he's looking at my chart and goes, Zoloft. Do you know how much Zoloft impairs the orgasm function? Let me TELL you how much Zoloft impairs the orgasm function. 900%. Yes, that's right. If it took you 15 minutes before, and you are taking 100 milligrams, then by the time the train finally gets into the station, then HOO EE

i exaggerate, but not by much.

what could i do? i needed his John Hancock. i was hostage. the weird thing was it didn't feel like he was being sexually creepy with me exactly, more like he just opens his mouth and lets whatever random stuff in his brain pour out?

Pippa said...

Heh, belledamme I recognise that doctor! I had one situation where a male doctor asked me if I knew how much my medications were costing the Chancellor of the Exchequer!! (the white bloke in charge of Britain's money) I summoned up enough courage to say "I don't really care what it costs him, my meds are keeping me alive and functioning." It took some doing because, yes, I needed his signature and say-so for my meds. That power is huge.

Anji, I too intend to be on Paroxetine forever. It's the only drug that works for me. I am glad it works for you too.

Spotty: I'll have one of those t-shirts when you get round to it! I'm not on lithium now, but I have been and may indeed be again...

I'm trying to be so upfront now about my health and my depression/anxiety. I am so proud of all of us who acknowledge our stuff! Love to all of you, P xxx